Tatarstan's Supreme Court Upholds Islamic Scholar's Sentence For Activities Of Banned Religious Group

KAZAN, Russia -- The Supreme Court of Russia's Republic of Tatarstan has rejected an appeal filed by a prominent Islamic scholar who was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison in November for running a branch of a banned religious group.

Gabdrakhman Naumov's lawyer, Ruslan Nagiyev, told RFE/RL that the Supreme Court upheld his client's sentence on February 8.

Naumov is well-known in Tatarstan as a teacher at the Russian Islamic University and is the former imam of a mosque in Tatarstan's capital, Kazan.

He was arrested in March 2020 and charged with being the leader of the Nurcular movement in Tatarstan.

Naumov has rejected the charges saying that he never promoted, shared, or supported any extremist or radical teachings or ideas.

Nagiyev said the Supreme Court’s decision will be appealed in higher federal courts.

Nurcular was founded in Turkey by Said Nursi, who died in 1960.

The Nurcular movement, which has millions of followers around the globe -- especially in Turkey -- has been banned in Russia since 2008.

Russian authorities have said the group promotes the creation of an Islamic state that encompasses all Turkic-speaking areas and countries in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Russia's Turkic-speaking regions in the North Caucasus and Volga regions.